We are Joshua & Nanu and run the Instagram Account @BigBirdsTravels, originally from England, but in 2016 we sold EVERYTHING and moved to Thailand. Living abroad in Thailand meant we had to reduce our earnings from our small business in England, which then got us thinking about different ways that we could earn money from anywhere in the world. Many we met were English Teachers or could do their job online, but this is not possible for everyone, this eventually led us to Instagram.
Instagram was launched in 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger and it is now 1 of the biggest social networks in the world, only Facebook (who acquired Instagram in 2012) and YouTube are bigger. As of June 2018 it has now reached 1 BILLION Users, I know CRAZY! And it is now the fastest growing social network. So for businesses, individuals, brands, airlines… well for anyone really, it has become one of the best and easiest ways to be seen.
And just think what that can mean…
Perhaps you run a business or sell a certain product, Instagram can enable you to engage with a targeted audience, and then, by growing your Instagram account, the message about what you offer, what you do or what you sell can reach more people then you could ever talk to, which will then translate into helping grow your business…
Becoming an Instagram Influencer – Well First WHAT is an Influencer? Quite Simply its someone who has a certain amount of followers, and are thus in a position, that by suggesting certain products/hotels/airlines/places they visit etc this can then influence people (their followers). Even if you have just 3k followers you can be classed as a Micro-Influencer, and this is an area which is growing very fast as more and more companies see the benefit of working with these influential accounts.
We successfully grew our account by 80k Followers in 1 Year, with in just a few weeks we started to be sent free products, then later on complimentary hotel stays and experiences and then we began to be paid for subtle Ads either in our Stories or Posts… this helped us see that it was possible in this modern age to earn money from your phone, anywhere in the world, using social media.
Its very clear then, that Instagram is a great tool that can be utilised for many things, but growing an account is not easy and takes a lot of time and effort. So to help we wanted to do a blog with some pointers of how to grow your account. (Soon we will also do another Blog Post all about how you can then EARN money from Instagram and enjoy complimentary experiences…)
Below is a list of just some of the things you need to do or avoid, we have included just a brief summary next to each one to help get you started. If you would like to learn more, we would recommend an Instagram Course we did that really helped us, click HERE.
With over 1Billion users, which means there is no room for messy, cluttered, confused accounts.
For Example, imagine you are looking at Instagram, and an account comes to your attention. You tap to have a look but its hard to work out what it is even about, Is it supposed to be Lifestyle? Travel? Beauty? Fitness? Selling a Product? a Brand?
Would you follow? Probably not.
A good example of what you want to achieve is looking at the accounts like @doyoutravel @saltinourhair @finduslost (some travel influencers), soon as you look at their feed’s it is very clear what its all about and what you will get if you follow that account. This is what you want to try and achieve, Clarity!
Before you start uploading any and every image you need to think about this carefully as it can be hard to change the theme drastically in the future, to go from say Travel to Travel/Lifestyle Theme well thats ok, but if you start along the Travel route but then want a Fitness theme, that is going to be very challenging as all your followers did not follow you for that reason, so this will cause a huge decline in engagement and following.
Once you have decided on WHAT your theme will be then set-up your account accordingly, choose a name and your ready to go.
Before we talked about having a clear direction, so now you have chosen your niche, you need to then focus on your content.
Often when people look at your feed they don’t just look at 1 photo they look at your entire feed, so you want the photos to work together. This can be achieved by editing your photos in a similar way or style that suits you and what you want to showcase, some choose black & white, dreamy soft colours, pinks & whites etc etc.
There is many Apps and Programs you can use with preset filters that can help you do this, and also many YouTube videos that have really helped us.
Inconsistency can easily happen, but this can lead to a decline in your follows, engagement and overall growth.
Although Instagram never actually say how their algorithm works, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that when your account fluctuates between having lots of activity, then none for a few days/weeks, your posts will not show up easily to your followers which reduces engagement, but also effects the amount of new followers you get.
Now there are some accounts that post 3x a DAY which can help gain larger exposure, as you are getting more content out there, but for us that is just WAY too much. We think this would first of all put our followers off as it would be a bit of an overload and also we just can’t create that much content ha ha.
Ideally you want to decide on a time you will post, how often per week, and then stick to it.
DAY & TIME
The time and day you choose to post is also important. The amount of likes and comments you receive in the first hour or 2 of posting then makes a big difference to how many other accounts it gets shown to.
Instagram want to easily showcase posts that it deems popular, so lets say you post at a time that not many people are on Instagram and you receive only a few likes in the first 2 hours. The algorithm will think that its not a kind of photo/post that others will want to see, and thus it will not be shown to as many people via things like hashtags/popular page etc.
How to find out the best time and day to post?
Research has found that most people check their phones more often during their lunch and evenings, also weekends people tend to check Instagram less. So work out when it is lunch or evening time in the country where your target/larger audience is from and post then. Then you need to keep a record, so lets say every Wednesday over several weeks try posting at different times, 1st week at 6pm, 2nd week at 7pm, 3rd week at 8pm and so on, and write down how many likes/comments you get, after a few weeks you will then work out the exact time and day to post.
HASHTAGS & TAGGING
Using hashtags is great way to help people find your post, however is not super simple, you need to do research. Say you are a Travel Based account, you cannot just add any # and assume that will work, for example try searching #travel and you will see it has around 300million results, so the odds of your post and your account being found by new people by using that # is very low. So first of all go and have a look at accounts similar niche and size and see what type of hashtags they are using, and try and find #’s with less results, more like 100k-5m+ is more realistic.
You can use 30 #’s per post, do not use all #’s that have 5m+ results, mix it up, some with 50k-250k, 250k-1m & 1m+
One thing to note with #’s is now due to the amount being used, sometimes you may not get tons of followers from using them, but it will help to start categorising your account.
Tagging your posts with other accounts is another good thing to do, for example if you tag your photo with a re-posting account that has millions of followers and they choose to re-post that photo (they always will give you credit for this) then this can help get your content out there and lead to many new followers. Also don’t be afraid to ask these bigger accounts, send them DMs or email with your content, if you don’t ask you don’t get. We did this with TripAdvisor and they re-posted the photo we sent on their main account which has over 1.5m followers, so great exposure for us.
BUY FOLLOWERS or LIKES?
Sadly, people have become so obsessed with numbers and want thousands of followers instantly, many decide to buy followers, accounts or likes. This can be done in many ways, shopping on the “black market” ha ha (its actually illegal to sell an Instagram account) or buying likes/followers from the many apps/websites/facebook groups that now offer this service.
But this is a very BAD idea and can kill your account, for 2x Reasons. Firstly, most of the time these followers are fake and Second even if they are not fake they didn’t choose to follow you which means they will not like, comment or even look at your posts, which will result in bad engagement(we will talk about in the next point). Engagement is crucial to every account and without it you cannot reach your goals whatever they are.
ENGAGE & BE SOCIAL
Engagement is one of the main keys to success for your Instagram Account. Engagement is basically the amount of likes + comments you get on a post, and depending on the niche and size of your account, the % will need to meet a good level to be viewed as a healthy account.
- How to work out your Engagement %: Calculate the engagement by adding the likes and comments from the post, then divide this by the amount of followers you have and times it by 100.
For Example – On your Latest Post you get 150 Likes + 15 Comments = 165 Engagement; You have 2000 followers so the calculation would be: 165 ÷ 2000 x 100 = 8.25%
Its good to remember that the more followers you gain, the less the engagement will be, this is normal for many reasons, so an account of 3k-25k followers should be on around 5-20% Engagement to be viewed as great, but accounts from 25k-200k something like 2-10% is a good level. This is by no means strict, but a rough guide as a target for you to reach.
- How to Increase your Engagement:
- CONTENT IS KING – so always focus on delivering quality content
- BE SOCIAL – reply to comments, ask Qs, engage with your followers, go to their accounts and like and comment on their posts, this is what SOCIAL networks are all about being SOCIAL
- ASK Q or POLLS – when adding your comment to your post, don’t just try and be cool and write 2x words, try and connect and start conversations with your followers. So instead of saying “love sunsets” why not say “where in the world did you see the sunset this evening?” this will then encourage your followers to comment and engage with that post.
There is a lot more needed to help grow a great Instagram Account but the above steps are some things that can help start you off on the right foot.
For the Instagram Course we did that helped us get started CLICK HERE.